Recognizing women as peacemakers

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Fifteen years ago, Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury — then president of the U.N. Security Council — helped bring global attention to the unrecognized contributions that women make toward peace.

The adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 during that U.N. session in 2000 became “my very small contribution to a better world for each one of us,” Chowdhury, who is from Bangladesh, told those assembled Oct. 28 in the chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations.

The occasion was the opening session of a peace forum, sponsored by United Methodist Women and a number of other faith groups and nongovernmental organizations, to commemorate the anniversary of what often is known simply as “1325.”

In mid-October, the United Nations held at 15-year review on the landmark resolution that affirmed the role of women in ending conflicts and building peace. The review included an open debate, passage of additional resolution 2242 and the launch of a new report, “Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing the Peace: A Global Study on the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325.”

Unfortunately, as speakers at the peace forum noted, implementation has been slow.

“The driving force behind 1325… is participation. I believe that the Security Council has been neglecting this whole focus of the resolution,” Chowdhury said. “There is no full and equal participation of women at any level.”

In his opinion, women’s participation could significantly impact the world’s security. “I believe strongly we would not have to worry about countering violent extremism if women had equality in decision-making,” Chowdhury declared.

Some U.N. member states are more committed than others to the equal representation of women on issues of peace and security.

“Spain has invested a lot of its political capital in this agenda,” said Juan Manuel González de Linares Palou, deputy permanent representative of the Mission of Spain to the United Nations. Spain’s prime minister chaired the review’s open debate for the Security Council.

Ukraine has been supportive in including women in peacebuilding and is one of the member states moving steadily toward a National Action Plan on 1325, said Martha Kebalo, U.N. representative, World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations.

The recent dialogue between women of Ukraine and Russian federations sponsored by her organization and United Methodist Women is an example of a people’s action plan for 1325, she added.

Magdy Martínez-Solimán, United Nations Development Programme, pointed to the unanimous adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2242 during the 15-year review of 1325 as an attempt to strengthen the recognition of the roles that women and girls play in conflict prevention and resolution and in peacebuilding.

“Despite these steps forward, we know there is still much to be done to translate these commitments into real change,” he acknowledged.

Some of that change could happen within the U.N. and its member delegations.

“One way to implement 1325 is to identify and train more women diplomats,” said Cora Weiss, U.N. representative and former president of the International Peace Bureau. “At the U.N., there is now a campaign to elect a woman secretary-general.”


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